Want to build a server for OS X

Discussion in 'macOS' started by luminol74, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. luminol74 macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2008

    I'm basically after some suggestions or advice. There are two of us in this house both with two macs each and so all our machines are running OS X. I have downstairs my parents old desktop machine (Core2 Duo) running XP blah blah blah. But they have laptops now and aren't in the country atm. I want to put a new hard drive into this machine and create a server.

    Our needs are fairly basic. This server needs to be a file server (for ~ 2TB HDD space), a print server but also a MySQL and PHP server. So far I've fired up iATKOS 10.5.5 onto the machine but I'm trying to keep this operation as legal as possible. My question is really about a linux server. A linux server is able to host a bunch of HFS+ partitions because I've tested that out before but I'm not sure it would work as a print server. How compatible would OS X be with a server (as described) running something like ubuntu or ubuntu server edition? Anyone with any experience of this?

    Thanks, Simon
  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
  3. Ploki macrumors 68030

    Jan 21, 2008
    probably because hes got a computer lying around and its a waste of 3000$ for a homebrew print server?
  4. luminol74 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2008
    If I were a man of unlimited funds or the owners of Manchester City FC then maybe. I'm literally only interested in spending money on HDDs and maybe a few bits and bobs as needed.
  5. milk242 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 28, 2007
    You can probably make a printer server from linux using cups and lpd server just gotta make sure cups supports your printer. As for file sharing you can use nfs or afp via netatalk.
  6. luminol74 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Fair doos I might just try that. These iATKOS etc distributions are somewhat of a hassle to get working well. The one major advantage I get with running OS X on the server is that I can remote desktop/screen share it. Can't do that with linux can I or has someone written a brilliant piece of software that does just that?? Simon
  7. Theophany macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2008
    NW London.
    You could SSH in, but screen sharing isn't possible AFAIK. You could screen share if the server was running Windows though, but I know you are averse to that (Windows can recognise HFS+ volumes with the appropriate software).

    Generally I would advise against a Hackintosh server. I just think it will cause you problems further down the line what with the inability to use software update and whatnot. Just seems simpler to use Linux/Unix, which is what OS X is built upon anyway. I imagine an OS X server would use CUPS to print share, just like Unix/Linux.
  8. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    VNC is easy to use. You can use the Screen Sharing app to connect to your server, and as expected, it installs simply in ubuntu.

    I tried with ubuntu as a home server, but it didn't work out for the media and transcoding side of things that I need in a home server. Thats why I took the easy way out and went with OSX86.

    The things that didnt work properly in ubuntu were: no iTunes sharing, and 802.11g wasn't fast enough for me to have my iTunes Library on the server and the iTunes Library xml file on my MacBook. Transcoding from xvid to MP4 never worked properly for me, VisualHub is a necessary app. Firefly media doesn't support video streaming so that was another reason.

    If you're wired up at home, then its fine to use Linux as a file server for media as you'll be getting high transfer speeds.

    Windows isn't the way forward for serving at home in my opinion though.
  9. Matek macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2007
    If I understood correctly, you intend to have HFS+ partitions on your server. You shouldn't do that, it is not necessary for filesystems to match on both machines in such a setup, network protocols take care of it.

    For example - Windows can't read HFS+ partitions, yet you can share your files on a mac over the network and access them from the Windows machine without a problem. Because of that, I recommend you use a more commonly used Linux filesystem like ext3.

    As far as printers are concerned, people already told you you can use CUPS with IPP, OS X fully supports that protocol. PHP and MySQL will ofcourse also work beautifully on Linux.

    Remote administration can be and in most cases is simply performed with SSH (remote console). If I were you, I wouldn't worry about a graphical interface. The whole beauty of such a server is the fact you can forget about it once you properly set it up.
  10. luminol74 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Point taken. I was actually thinking of using ext2 partitions for maximum compatibility should I ever need to take the drives out. Mind you I always have about me a Linux live CD for file recovery whatever the format.

    Well I'm gonna fire this old timer up with Ubuntu and see how far I get. I'm using the desktop edition because I can't see any real advantage in using the server edition unless I'm hopelessly misinformed...?
  11. Matek macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2007
    That's good thinking, but I think I'd still recommend ext3 - one major reason is the fact it's journaled. Don't think it's a hip new experimental filesystem - it's been around for quite some time and I'm pretty sure you will have absolutely no compatibility problems. You can tell it's been tried and tested because ext4 has been out for a while and is also mature enough to be used as the default filesystem in the next version of ubuntu

    AFAIK the only major difference is the fact the desktop version includes Gnome, a graphical desktop system. As this won't be needed once the server is running, it will just hog resources, so if you feel comfortable enough to configure the server through command line (it's not that difficult ;)), use the server edition.
  12. luminol74 thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Yeh well while I'm not totally inept and can use a UNIX shell I'm not a UNIX purist and quite like having a GUI to work with. I kinda guessed the distributions were essentially the same just with bits and pieces added or missing from each. Plus cos there are just two of us in the house I doubt resource hogging is gonna be an issue. Thanks for your wise words Matek, Simon
  13. macrem macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2008
    I have Ubuntu Desktop on my desktop machine (which I hardly ever use because I use my MBP) and a headless Ubuntu Server. The Desktop edition, by default, not only installs Gnome but OpenOffice, Firefox and lots of other GUI apps. Its overkill as a headless server unless you're planning to use that server as a Linux application server (and/or need a GUI for administration, in which case also consider that you could install a gui for the Server edition). Its possible to remote display these apps on your mac.

    By default instead of these gui apps, the Server edition comes with a standard set of server apps like Apache webserver, Samba file server.

    As long as you don't need to share files with a Windows machine, I would skip Samba which is insecure in favor of ssh which is secure. to transfer files to/from the server there is the scp command and several GUI apps with a front-end for scp. Check out Macfuse and sshfs on Google code. Actually the easiest way to get it IMO is install Macports, then run: sudo port install sshfs. After installed there will be a "Macports" folder in /Applications which contains sshfs.app
  14. rockstarjoe macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2006
    washington dc
    You should check out LinuxMint... it is based on Ubuntu but has a snazzy look and is pre-packaged with some nice media apps.

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